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He Said/She Said: Canadian TV reboots — Yay or Nay?

Join Greg and Diane every Monday as we debate what’s on our minds. This week: Canadian TV reboots — Yay or Nay?

He said:

There has been a lot of coverage regarding television reboots lately, the most recent being that Netflix is bringing Full House back with some of the original cast for a short-run season. ET Canada celebrated Classic Canadian TV Week with cast reunions for Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Due South, Danger Bay (a reboot of that is happening) and Street Legal, and just over a week ago, the Edmonton Journal asked readers which classic Canadian TV show they would like to see back on the air.

If it’s done right, a remake can be very effective. I found Netflix’s re-visit of Arrested Development to be wildly choppy story-wise but it was fun as heck to see all of those characters reunited. I know plenty of Boy Meets World fans who were thrilled that franchise was returning with Girl Meets World and tuned in to check it out. Revisiting an established show with new stories pulls at the heartstrings and remember the times in our lives when our biggest worry was getting that high school project done. It’s no secret that television networks are desperate to keep people glued to the small screen, and reboots are a safe answer. Despite two awful feature films, I’m giddy as a schoolboy that Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are getting back together for more X-Files adventures.

But like I said, a re-visit of an old series has to be done the right way. With that in mind, here are four Canadian TV series I think could be brought back for today’s audiences.

Due North: A Due South Mystery
Sixteen years after Due South went off the air, Constable Benton Fraser is retired and living on a ranch in Alberta. He’s got a pretty wife, a dog (the pooch is a direct descendant of the late, great Diefenbaker), a field full of cattle and a quiet life. His idyllic existence is shattered when he receives a phone call: Ray Vecchio needs his help. Ray has gotten involved with some very bad dudes in Chicago and needs somewhere to hide. Benton secrets him across the border, where Ray finds himself a fish out of water in the land of big skies. This would be the first in a series of Due South TV-movies aimed at gradually reuniting the remaining cast in various situations and crime solving.

The Beachcombers: The Next Generation
To celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of the end of The Beachcombers, this limited-run series of six episodes catches up with the families of Nick Adonidas and Relic Phillips. The two groups are still feuding over errant logs, but the battle is even more complicated than it used to be. Why? Because Nick’s granddaughter and Relic’s grandson are a couple with a baby on the way and everyone tries to get along for the sake of those two. And yes, this project totally ignores The New Beachcombers TV-movie.

Still Ready or Not
Teen angst isn’t new—Degrassi is proof positive of that—so why not revisit this little beauty from the 90s by meeting up with the daughters of Amanda and Busy, who just happen to live next door to one another?

Da Vinci: MP
After serving as Vancouver’s chief coroner on Da Vinci’s Inquest for seven seasons, Dominic Da Vinci made the jump to mayor of the city for one season. This update spotlights Da Vinci as a member of parliament, walking the hallowed halls of Ottawa, making deals for his home province and enemies of fellow politicians with his no-nonsense approach.

hobo-9-1.jpg

She Said:

Wow, Greg got all creative and came up with some pitches. I can’t say I have a burning desire for even my favourite shows to come back, unless it’s something like Intelligence where I want a cliffhanger ending resolved, or Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays where a single season seemed inadequate and you can hardly consider it a creatively bankrupt money-grab to bring it back. Bringing back a long-dead, long-running show seems particularly unnecessary to me. Now that many of the main actors are dead, is there really unexplored territory in log gathering? I’ll watch the new X-Files with great trepidation.

Reading the entire series of books featuring Anne Shirley (of Green Gables fame) made me realize early in my life that more is not necessarily better. I was happy Kevin Sullivan didn’t go on to show Anne and Gilbert’s son dying in WWI, for example (though let’s not speak of the abomination that was his not-based-on-the-books The Continuing Story). I kind of hated the Arrested Development return. I’d almost always rather see something original from the brain of someone I admire creatively than see them try to recapture a magic that is so often capricious.

The common wisdom is it’s easier creatively and marketing-ly to start from a known premise. I’m not sure that’s always the case. In some ways, the earlier work adds constraints that a blank slate doesn’t. Plus it can be a world of diminishing returns: how do you convince someone to see Problem Child 10 if they haven’t seen 1 through 9?

Yet reboots and sequels have been with us forever. Most of Shakespeare’s oeuvre is remakes of earlier stories. Degrassi is on its umpteenth incarnation. Maybe it’s the difference social media makes I don’t remember the rolling of eyes as with Fuller House the last time Degrassi came back. Granted it’s been a generation since Full House, but contrary to what some self-appointed spokespeople for the human race have said, there are many who loved the show at the time and remember the show fondly. The derision of Seventh Heaven by online critics primed me to be wary of those ironically dismissing a show because they are not in a show’s demographic.

Remember how we fawned over Netflix’s use of viewer data to inform their original series selections? OK, downside, it led to more Adam Sandler movies in production, but I have faith they know there’s a gap in their original family-friendly fare. Unless people are sitting around with the kidlets watching Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, this seems a smart step for Netflix to leverage the enormous popularity of kids programming on their service. Fuller House might be a show that bridges the gap between younger viewers and more nostalgic ones.

I’d love to see a Littlest Hobo reboot on CTV (as if) or CBC, not because I want to watch it (though come on, I totally would for a few episodes) but because it’s the kind of program Canadian networks have all but abandoned, where children to grandparents can enjoy. Heartland is probably the closest, though it likely skews older than good old Hobo.

But really, Canadian TV isn’t exactly overflowing with original series as it is, and unlike Netflix has to consider what fits on a broadcast schedule, so I hope they stay away from reboots and start having more faith in truly original programming.

Greg David
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Greg David

Prior to becoming a television critic and partner at TV, Eh?, Greg David was a critic for TV Guide Canada, the country's most trusted source for TV news. He has interviewed television actors, actresses and behind-the-scenes folks from countless programs. Survivor winners, Donald Trump, Jerry Bruckheimer ... he has interviewed (literally) hundreds of TV people over the course of his career. He is a past member of the Television Critics Association.
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9 thoughts on “He Said/She Said: Canadian TV reboots — Yay or Nay?”

  1. I’m not a fan of reboots/remakes in general but for certain shows I like sequels. The only show I would like a reboot on is The Odyssey because I think they could do a good job with it. When it comes to Canadian shows, I’m not sure what I would like brought back. I think they did a good job with Degrassi. And while I wouldn’t mind an update about what happened with the characters from my favourite Canadian shows North of 60 and Road to Avonlea, I’m not sure it would be feasible for a sequel, at least with the same actors.

    P.S. Diane, The Littlest Hobo skewed about 64% adult–I learned that from the article you posted the other day.

    P.P.S. I hated The Continuing Story of Anne Gables. I wish they could have stuck more closely to the books.

    1. Yeah my comment about age for Hobo was supposed to be about the lowest age threshold. As in it’s appropriate and appealing for a younger child than Heartland is, though both appeal to adults as well.

  2. At the risk of getting all “nerd-speak” on ya, I think you guys are muddling remake/reboot and revival/return-of (next: we can argue about the precise definition of “retcon” :) ).
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    Either way, I suppose the impetus varies from capitalizing on a fondly recalled concept that might have an existing fanbase, and something which was creatively a good idea and warrants dusting off, even if people aren’t immediately familiar with it. The problem with the former is, well, Canadian TV – I’m not sure we have too many of those. Heck, even the Americans can over-estimate a pre-existing recognition factor (look at everything from The Shadow to Serenity). Still, I do think Due South might have some legs.
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    As for some reboots I’ve thought about over the years:
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    Seeing Things (comedy-drama about a crime-solving psychic…maybe with Enrico Colantoni in the Louis Del Grande part).
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    Adderly (wisecracking secret agent with the bum left hand – what’s not to like?)
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    Wojeck (just ‘cause he was such a bad-ass – House with righteous indignation).
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    I’ve always tended to agree with filmmaker John Huston who wondered why people re-made good films when they should remake lesser films, to get them right. So in that spirit I think there was untapped creative juice in Strange Paradise (the early ‘70s occult soap — with all the horror/supernatural series around now, the time is right) and The Star Lost (though I think the latter’s rights lie south of the border). And I maintain that if someone in Canada doesn’t try to mount a live-action Rocket Robin Hood then sooner or later Hollywood will (I don’t think you can copyright “Robin Hood in space”).

  3. I’d watch a log gathering show! It’s about the characters not the premise, and for Beachcombers especially the setting too.

  4. Greg, the two X-Files movies were AWFUL? Harsh! I know the second one doesn’t get a lot of respect (though I’ve warmed to it more over the years), but I love the first one! Anyway, I too am giddy about the 6-episode revival. Fingers crossed it’ll be great.
    .
    Another revival I’m looking forward to is Heroes Reborn, despite the fact the series got progressively worse after the stellar 1st season.
    .
    Love your DaVinci MP idea. It would be cool to see Dominic doing his thing on the Hill, especially if it meant it could be filmed right here in Ottawa.

    1. OK, I was a little harsh. I just wasn’t a fan of the conspiracy stuff and that was a large part of the first movie. All if forgiven and mostly forgotten with the news of the limited run new series!

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